by Tom Brown vtdigger.org Vermonters illegally consume between 33,000 and 55,000 pounds of marijuana annually, according to a study released Friday by the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. Legalizing, taxing and regulating that volume could generate $20 million to $75 million a year, the report said. Factor in marijuana tourism, and the revenue estimate soars into the hundreds of millions. The 218-page report prepared for lawmakers offered no recommendations but provided a detailed analysis of the available data on legalization. The report looked at public health effects, regulatory structure, revenue potential and other impacts of legalizing the use of recreational marijuana.
While it suggested no specific path to legalization, it did offer a series of alternatives to the retail model that is in effect in Colorado and Washington state.
According to the report, lawmakers could:
• Allow adults to grow their own.
• Allow distribution only within small co-ops or buyers’ clubs.
• Permit locally controlled retail sales (the Dutch coffee-shop model).
• Have the government operate the supply chain (government monopoly).
• Have a public authority operate the supply chain.
• Permit only nonprofit organizations to sell.
• Permit only for-benefit companies to sell.
• Have very few closely monitored for-profit licensees.
Sen. David Zuckerman, P/D-Chittenden, said Friday he hopes to introduce a bill to legalize the drug next week or the week after.
A bill that would require that edible marijuana be packaged in single-dose, child-resistant packaging has already been filed by Sens. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, and Jeanette White, D-Windham.
Lawmakers authorized the study last year as part of S.247, a bill that made changes in Vermont’s medicinal marijuana law. The state paid $20,000 toward the report, which was also underwritten by Good Ventures, a nonprofit that makes grants for consultation.
TOP PHOTO: Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center, presents the group’s study Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, at the Statehouse in Montpelier. Photo by Tom Brown/VTDigger